Glasgow, Scotland, November 11, 2021 - UN-Habitat’s Executive Director, Maimunah Mohd Sharif participated in one of the “COP26 Dialogues: Sustainable Cities” broadcast from United Nations headquarters in New York with UN leaders, experts, advocates and influencers on the nexus between the Sustainable Development Goals and climate action and solutions discussed at the UN Climate Conference COP26 in Glasgow.
Speaking virtually from COP26, UN-Habitat’s Executive Director, Maimunah Mohd Sharif said: “National governments need to take actions to decarbonize cities before we can achieve the Nationally Determined Contributions. I can see the momentum for cities. Meeting the climate goals will require accelerating the finance for climate implementation. Cities cannot solve the crisis of the climate change alone. They need the multi-level governance framework for climate action, local capacity for bankable and green project.”
New York City’s Commissioner for International Affairs, Penny Abeywardena said: “You know what cities are putting on the table? They are putting ambition. The reason that cities have to be on the frontline is because we are impacted by climate change. We have seen that climate is the threat multiplier and so that has to be at the heart of the strategy. Even in COVID, we could not ignore that issue. We recognize that the barrier isn’t the boldness or the ambition of the projects but it’s about the financing and how other sectors are going to support it.”
“We really have to, as institutions, as city governments, as the United Nations, as leaders on this issues, talk to young people about finding opportunities to act and make change where and how they can,” she told the moderator UN Chief of Partnerships and Global Engagement, Robert Skinner.
The final day of COP26 for non-state actors was Cities, Regions and the Built Environment Day saw Ms. Sharif get involved in a round of other events including a closed-door, high-level discussion with UN Secretary General, António Guterres as well as city Mayors.
This discussion convened mayors leading large and smaller cities from the Global South and Global North, who together represent and are involved in steering the major city climate networks—to discuss cities’ critical role in delivering rapid emissions reductions aligned with what science demands and their own commitments, coupled with a scale up on adaptation and resilience.
In her remarks during the meeting, Ms. Sharif said: “A number of cities have already committed to take more ambitious action to address climate change than the countries in which they are located. Cities are signing up to the Cities Race to Zero and UN-Habitat collaborates with local actors to increase the ambitions. To further increase climate action in cities, we believe that multi-level governance arrangements need to be strengthened.”
In a recorded message shown before the interview, the Mayor of Bogota, Colombia, Claudia Lopez, underlined the importance of pushing the boundaries to achieve the expected outcomes.
“It’s the first time that we are able to show the pledge of 1049 cities who already have climate action plans, climate action investments, are coming together to the COP26 to show the commitment to change for our citizens, and for our cities and to ask the national governments and the private corporations to do their part; to align their incentives and investments with our climate action plans with our citizens’ demand for actual change,” she said.
In a panel discussion called “GOING GREEN: Developing an International Framework for Climate Funding“ , the UN-Habitat Executive Director, development partners and African government officials discussed climate challenges on the continent, the financial gap and developing an international framework for adapting innovative climate financing.
“The New Urban Agenda, together with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), provide excellent frameworks in promoting an integrated approach to developing transformative projects that are climate responsive,” said Ms Sharif. “The worlds of finance and sustainable urban development are converging and will continue to do so in future in the face of climate change and other threats to sustainable development.”